A domestic final in any country should have its own day in the spotlight. A game where it should have its own day in the league’s calendar so that it can draw all the focus and the attention to that particular showpiece.
The British Basketball League, however have decided to follow a different path.
Newcastle Eagles defeated Leicester Riders 96-90 in the BBL Trophy Final on Sunday afternoon in front of a decent crowd, but not full house in Glasgow.
But, the final was just one of four games played in the BBL, deeming the climax to the BBL Trophy, just another game – when in reality – it should be the day’s only encounter.
The other games featured London Lions travelling to Durham to face to the Wildcats and Sheffield Sharks hosting Surrey United.
But the icing on the cake, was that as soon as the Eagles left the court, the fans celebrated on the streets of the Scottish city and the confetti was being swept from the main floor, the Glasgow Rocks arrived onto the same court preparing for a vital league game against a tricky Leeds Force side, who, while out of playoff contention, are looking to end their maiden season on a high.
Kieron Achara and the Glasgow Rocks faced Leeds Force after today’s Trophy Final. Three other games took place on Sunday.
But before the hometown team stole the spotlight and ultimately defeat Leeds 67-59, both Newcastle and Leicester played out a closely fought affair to begin with. They couldn’t be separated at half-time; deadlocked at 45-45 before the Riders made their move.
An 8-2 spurt followed a couple of possessions later by a three from Jamell Anderson gave Leicester a 66-57 lead. Eagles finished the quarter the stronger of the two, but the Riders still held a 73-71 advantage, heading to the fourth.
Eagles’ eventual win came at a price, as player-coach Fabulous Flournoy hobbled off with a reported Achilles injury, that could rule him out for the season.
But with Flournoy off, he rallied his troops to a game-changing burst, led by Charles Smith, who hit 14 of his 18 points in the final period, en route to the Trophy Final MVP award. Scott Martin led the winners with 20.
The celebrations though, were unfortunately unable to continue as the Eagles vacated the court to allow the Rocks and Force to start their warm-up.
For Newcastle, and its loyal supporters, the dream of a clean sweep of silverware is still alive. Already BBL Cup and now Trophy winners, the focus shifts to the league, where they are six points ahead of Worcester Wolves, with a game in hand.
And then comes the BBL Playoff Final, to be played at the O2 Arena. Luckily, the climax to the season only needs one game. For Eagles, their Trophy success was just another game, not the spotlight fixture, like it should have been.